Yesterday, Dr. Matthew Francis (of the very interesting and worth-checking-out physics blog Galileo’s Pendulum) pointed me to NASA’s astronomy picture of the day, Arp 272, which consists of two colliding galaxies (center and upper right) with a third likely interacting galaxy (upper left). The trio lies some 450 million light years away from us, and the picture is perhaps 150 thousand light years across:
In addition to being an awesome astronomical phenomenon, the picture is quite reminiscent of something very familiar to me. Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out my avatar icon, which I made from scratch and have been using since 2007:
Clearly, the universe has ripped me off! Now I need to figure out how to sue the universe for copyright infringement…
This isn’t the first physics “look alike” for my avatar. Some time ago, @scimomof2 sent me the following:
This is an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image.
These are some great examples of pareidolia, in which one imagines significant patterns in essentially random phenomena. Seeing images in clouds is a classic example of pareidolia, though I wouldn’t use my own cloud-watching as a “normal” case.